1 Tooting High Street
When I first arrived in London, I wasn’t given much useful advice; buy an oyster card (wow, gee golly gosh thanks for that gem), don’t live on the District Line (I moved to Putney anyway) and if you ever want a curry, go to Brick Lane. So I did just that. I went to Brick Lane, got myself an amazing deal of 2 courses, naan and a drink for £20 (which I know now should’ve been 2 courses, naan, rice and 4 drinks for £10 max) and sat down for what was ultimately an ok curry but being a boy from little New Zealand, holy sh*tballs it was the best curry I’ve ever had in my life!
Fast forward 5 years and as I developed some street smarts, my palate has also come along for the ride and I found myself starting to get quite bored of what was on offer at Brick Lane. Let’s be honest, they are all essentially serving the same thing with little variation between establishments.
And so began my search for better in the hope of renewing my once strong love affair with the Asian cuisine (this is another point of confusion I had when I first came to this country. I had unknowingly gone from being “Asian” to being “Oriental” which is a shame as I liked being “Asian”…). Along the way, I’ve come across some real winners (notables such as the notorious Tayyabs and Lahore Kebab House which are already well-known to London foodies) and some real stinkers (like, seriously felt like I was eating faeces).
After all the trials, tribulations, the searches in vain and sleepless nights (mostly due to stomach cramps), I can comfortably say that I have settled on Lahore Karahi (located on Tooting High Street) as my “go-to” curry house in London and I am clearly not the only one as it also features in the book “Where Chefs Eat”. Why do I love this place so much? 3 things: 1) they serve delicious food. Ok maybe not as good as Tayyabs for argument’s sake but I don’t taste a noticeable difference; 2) the food is affordable, you could go on a date and walk out happy as Larry for under £20; and 3) you can book and even if you don’t, the lines are never as bad as Tayyabs. I love food, a lot, but I hate waiting for it. Call me impatient but I think it takes away from the overall experience.
My only critique would be that when I was there this time, there was a lot of staff standing around doing very little. They were either more interested in each other or just standing aimlessly. Blame it on the weather. Everything else seems to be.
My latest visit there was for lunch about 2 weeks ago on a sunny Saturday. I’d just been for a run in the morning so I felt like I needed (and deserved) a substantial meal. It doesn’t matter how long I ran for, I deserved it dammit!
Whenever I go, I automatically always order the mixed grill. Large. Always. Even if it is just me, it will always be a large mixed grill please. Everything else is secondary. This dish is, for lack of a more imaginative word, awesome. Consisting of a portion of spiced lamb chops, mutton tikka, chicken tikka, lamb kofta and spicy chicken wings, I challenge you not to get meat sweats after this. The meat is spiced and grilled so well it’s just pure deliciousness. I cannot say enough about it. Oh, did I mention it was £15 and could feed 2? Well, it’s £15 and could feed 2. Winner winner, lamb, mutton and chicken dinner (or lunch in this case).
In addition to the mixed grill, I also ordered a chicken biriyani because well, why not? The dish was cooked well with the right amount of spice and kick to make it enjoyable. The basmati rice was cooked perfectly so it still required a bit of bite when eaten and the individual grains were falling away from each other. There was also a generous amount of chicken in there so as to reassure you that you did indeed receive the correct dish. Overall, a wonderful biriyani, I’d have it again.
So there it is, I’ve once again fallen in love with the Asian cuisine and it’s in the form of Lahore Karahi. If you’re ever feeling like a good curry or 2, head on down to Tooting Broadway and check them out. It’s worth the trip I tell ya. Oh also, did I mention the whole meal cost £19.90 including service? Curry on!